Yeah, I said it. What if Hollywood knew in the 90s what we know now? Those comic-book movies could print money. Sure, Superman was a success, but what if a studio had the equivalent budget in 1996 that Disney had in 2020 to make a blockbuster Avengers movie? What would it look like? Who would it star? Dive deep with me if you will into this alternate reality that could have been. If only…
Freddie Prinze Jr. | Captain America
What you might have seen him in: I Know What You Did Last Summer, She’s All That
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Coming in with America’s Ass is none other than one of the many heartthrobs of the nineties. In 1996, this would have been Freddie’s big break into studio films! Luckily for him, there isn’t any previous version of Captain America that would have comic-book fans constantly comparing him to. Prinze Jr. had the wholesome boyish charm we need as our scout leader and face of the franchise. He, like many other actors on my list, would definitely need to hit the weight room, but it’s the ’90s. I’m as positive as Sammy Sosa that some shady exec would have a hook up for premium steroids. Which brings me to my next pick.
Jean-Claude Van Damme | Thor
What you might have seen him in: Cyborg, Double Impact, Sudden Death
Why he’d be perfect for the role: The Timecop himself! Van-Damme would be incredible as The God of Thunder. The Belgian martial-artist probably wouldn’t get many speaking lines, but Damme it if I don’t want to see him swinging an over-sized hammer at some aliens. His Scandinavian appearance makes him an obvious choice for me. The man looks like someone Vikings would pray to. Also, it makes sense to me that the guy that portrays Thor should be able to kick the rest of the cast’s ass in real life.
Keanu Reeves | Iron Man
What you might have seen him in: Point Break, Speed
Why he’d be perfect for the role: I know this one will be the hardest for most people to swallow as it’s not easy to think of anyone else playing our favorite narcissist. In 1996, I wouldn’t know, but I’m sure Keanu would be easier to manage than RDJ. This would be the time that he would already be a household name, post-Point Break and Bill and Ted. Reeves playing the billionaire, playboy, philanthropist with some premium ’90s CGI helping him fly through NYC would put people in seats.
Johnny Depp | Bruce Banner
What you might have seen him in: Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Throw a lab coat and glasses on Depp and write some lines about radiation and we have our geeky, unassuming Bruce Banner. If they wanted to get into the internal struggle Bruce has with his Hulk counterpart, Depp has that gravitas. Lets be real though, it’s the ’90s, baby! Would there be room for such drama during this action-packed, star-studded, movie event of the decade?! Heck no. I think Depp would get maybe 20-40 minutes of screen time for exposition and the rest of the time he would be swapped for our favorite green monster.
Arnold Schwarzenegger | Hulk
What you might have seen him in: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies
Why he’d be perfect for the role: You want an explanation for this? It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Hulk. Paint the man’s body green and let him smash. You hear that? It’s this Avengers movie sinking the Titanic‘s chances of becoming the top-grossing movie of all time. Eat it, Cameron.
Helena Bonham Carter | Black Widow
What you might have seen him in: Howards End, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Why he’d be perfect for the role: You thought there would be a movie with Johnny Depp and NOT Helena Bonham Carter? Not even in my make-believe fantasy world. Never known for action roles or fighting sequences, this could have completely changed Bonham Carter’s career path. She could have been Charlize Theron before Charlize Theron! Sure, we probably wouldn’t have gotten her award-nominated work in The Wings of a Dove due to Avengers contract sequel obligations, but who cares. She would have been making Scar Jo money in the ’90s!
Ethan Hawke | Hawkeye
What you might have seen him in: Reality Bites, Before Sunrise
Why he’d be perfect for the role: I know what you’re thinking. “Cody, did you pick Ethan Hawke for Hawkeye because his last name is Hawke?” You’re damn right I did. Imagine the late-night talk show hosts and their bird jokes! The studio would stray from the source material just a tad and Hawkeye would have a hawk companion and it would be wonderful. The hawk would obviously retrieve arrows for Hawkeye. Hawke would typically be too high brow for these type of franchise flicks, but how could he say no to this?
Denzel Washington | Nick Fury
What you might have seen him in: Malcolm X, Crimson Tide
Why he’d be perfect for the role: The guy that would bring it all together. The glue of the team. Someone who demands respect in every scene he is in. Not to mention I’m sure Denzel could pull off a mean eye patch. Nick Fury is a hardened, no-nonsense, secret agent. He would be channeling his inner Coach Boone four years before Remember the Titans. Not to mention this brings Hawke and Washington together before the classic Training Day. Now that I mention it, since they are together in The Avengers, do we even still need Training Day?
Maybe another time. How great is this list? How terrible is it? Let me know. Sound off in the comments.
Unfortunately, I have no space left to mention how Macaulay Culkin would be the perfect 1996 Spider-Man. Nonetheless, that is my definitive list of the seven core characters from 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers as if they were cast in 1996.
Who would you FanCast? Sound off in the comments below!